Al-Qaeda Developing a Coherent Strategy Article

Pages: 15 (4596 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 25  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Terrorism

S. And European nations. These attacks have resulted in the loss of thousands of lives (Post, 2002), and the number continues to grow. Keeping in mind the aforementioned description of Al-Qaeda's background, power structure, operation methods and ideology, one can easily conduct an examination of the strengths and weakness of the group and determine how best to achieve victory over this multi-faced foe.

The Chinese General and military strategist, Sun Tzu, in his book 'The Art of War' (Giles, 2005) has famously said, "To fight and conquer in all our battles, is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting." A well-thought out strategy is required to defeat a foe of such vast influence and caliber. It should in no way be underestimated. A strategy is basically any course of action that is assumed with the achievement of a certain objective in mind. Attention should be paid to details in the course of action undertaken, i.e. planning of resource allocation and development of short-term plans that eventually lead to the realization of the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal should be clear and defined in the heads of those executing the strategy.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Article on Al-Qaeda Developing a Coherent Strategy Assignment

When addressing the media at the White House in Washington in November 2001, President George Bush stated that, "No group or nation should mistake America's intentions: We will not rest until terrorist groups of global reach have been found, have been stopped, and have been defeated" (National Strategy For Combating Terrorism, 2003). Such a statement clearly puts out the intentions of developed nations, such as the U.S., in regard of the measures to be taken against such a global terrorist outfit like the Al-Qaeda. However, attaining the above stated national security objective is not easy. All the resources and instruments available to the U.S. government must be used full steam ahead in their respective capacities in order to uproot Al-Qaeda once and for all. Not only the diplomatic, military, economic and informational powers of the United States should focus on incapacitating Al-Qaeda through exploitation of their weakness but these instruments should also address weakness in the U.S. Government itself and provide adequate protection to the citizens of the country. Military operations tend to be a small part in context to what is largely at stake here.

Micheal Howard has explained that, "The roots of victory and defeat often have to be sought far from the battlefield, in political, social, and economic factors which explain why armies are constituted as they are, and why their leaders conduct them in the way they do." (Howard, 1981).

Research Methodology:

To counter Al-Qaeda, it is important to cut them off early on in the pursuit of their objectives. Since the command structure and objectives of Al-Qaeda are well-known, an aggressive and cohesive strategy can be developed to stop the terrorist organization in its tracks. An analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the group can lead to a better assessment and determination of the policies to be adopted against the group and the plan to be followed in order to bring about its downfall. If we first focus on the strengths of the group, one of the biggest advantages the Al-Qaeda has is the devotion of its troops. The fighters of the "Mujahedeen" army are committed to the cause of Al-Qaeda with unwavering loyalty and dedication, despite being highly under resourced against the U.S. forces and knowing that only violence and death, not only for them, but also for innocent millions of lives, await them out on the global battlefield. They are highly trained in combat (having had prior contacts with the CIA) and capable of long-term planning and its scrupulous execution. They usually act in covert operation throughout the Western World so it is difficult to spot a pattern or to keep an eye on their moves.

Another aspect of the powers that Al-Qaeda wields is its support from certain Arab communities. These communities not only help the group of the Al-Qaeda with financial resources and support, but also provide them with refuge within their boundaries and assist them with recruiting, even using their own personnel and soldiers, when required and necessary. Many large businesses operated in such countries act as a front for Al-Qaeda activities, aiding them to have an infrastructure that supports in plotting and carrying out acts of terror.

The Al-Qaeda operates as decentralized troops functioning in independent cells controlled by a rigid ideology. Targeting just one or two units of Al-Qaeda terrorists will not deliver a fatal blow to their ever-increasing numbers. There is no link between one independent unit and another so there is no break in the overall chain of command and the power structure that binds the group together under the banner of Al-Qaeda remains intact. Infiltration of the organization is futile since many of the fighters in the troops never even get close to the central power structure of the group. The secrecy and scattered troops serve Al-Qaeda well.

The basic strategy employed by the Al-Qaeda is simple. Incite the U.S. government into retaliation attacks through the commitment of calamitous terrorist acts against U.S. civilian and military targets. It makes use of explosive devices and other conventional weapons such as rifles to further its motives. It also relies heavily on the global media to report its acts of violence to create fear and terror in the minds of billions of people around the world and establish their place in the world community as a force to be feared and reckoned with.

Despite the above stated strengths, the top-most terrorist organization has its fair share of weakness as well. These include the difficulty of obtaining weapons of mass destruction and the training operatives may be compromised due to the scattered nature and possible U.S. infiltration of their ranks. Also there are financial support problems (although a lot of rich individuals sympathetic to their cause do make substantial donations), since the transfer of funds is heavily monitored and subjected to the scrutiny of financial forensics.

However, these are nothing compared to the newest weakness that has emerged recently. This is the fall of the leadership of Osama Bin Laden and stumbling of the Al-Qaeda power structure. On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden was gunned down in his home in Abottabad, Pakistan by U.S. forces. Bin Laden had held together the loosely aligned troops that made up the Al-Qaeda under his notorious leadership since the 1980's. His sudden death at the hands of Al-Qaeda's arch enemy was unnerving and came as a huge shock to the members of the organization. The group rallied again under the leadership of Aymen al-Zawahiri, who took charge after Bin Laden's death. Al-Zawahiri inherited the leadership of Al-Qaeda under intense pressure and at a time when the troops had pretty much lost their "father-figure" in their fight against the West.

Many of the experts on the New York Times panel are of the opinion that his many flaws are likely to weaken the network of this once mighty and much feared organization. Al- Zawahiri not only lacks combative experience but also has a history of petty squabbles of over ideology and of giving pedantic speeches. Such an abrasive manner is not really attractive for young militants whose allegiance and support is required by the new leader to move ahead in the plans of the organization.

Bin Laden's death will, undoubtedly, serve as a deterrent to aspiring young radicals who were attracted to the organization due to the seemingly invincibility of the leader. This will lead to the group having difficulty finding new recruits and the on-going war against terror with current troops will help wipe out the slightly smaller crop of militants left in the Al-Qaeda Army. All such strategies made by the U.S. government that seek to defeat the organization should focus on exploiting this weak point further (Tayekh, 2011).

Analysis and Assessment:

It should be kept in mind that the strategy adopted by the U.S. shouldn't allow the Al-Qaeda to adapt to counter it. All kinds of organizations have a vast number of motivations to carry out their objectives and not every organization is the same as the other one. But, in a general manner, most of the terror organizations share a similar basic hierarchal structure. This structure can be summed up as follows:



State Sponsorship (internal & external support)

International Environment

Underlying Conditions (National Strategy For Combating Terrorism, 2003).

While dealing an international terrorist organization such as the Al-Qaeda with complete effectiveness, a strategy should be developed and followed by the U.S. that at the same moment targets every level of the organizational hierarchy mentioned above, using all the available national power and resources. As we effectively bring in to use these resources, we are settling down with the notion that the U.S. And the Al-Qaeda are entwined in to a complex, adaptive,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Al-Qaeda Developing a Coherent Strategy.  (2012, March 7).  Retrieved September 21, 2020, from

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"Al-Qaeda Developing a Coherent Strategy."  March 7, 2012.  Accessed September 21, 2020.